US withdraws from 'cesspool' UN Human Rights Council

20 June, 2018, 08:56 | Author: Genevieve Gibbs
  • UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson

She said that after repeated warnings by the Trump administration, "Regrettably, it is now clear that our call for reform was not heeded".

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the USA announcement, tweeting, "The US decision to leave this prejudiced body is an unequivocal statement that enough is enough".

There are 47 countries in the Human Rights Council, elected by the U.N.'s General Assembly with a specific number of seats allocated for each region of the globe.

"The Human Rights Council has become an exercise in shameless hypocrisy, with numerous world's worst human-rights abuses going ignored and some of the world's most serious offenders sitting on the council itself", Pompeo said, according to NPR.

Far left organizations by the American Civil Liberties Union's Human Rights Program said it only puts American in an isolated position, but Jewish rights group the Simon Wiesenthal Center not only said the US was right, but other nations should join in.

Speaking before the USA announcement, United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Secretary-General Antonio Guterres "is a strong believer in the human rights architecture of the U.N. and the active participation of all states". "That undermines our standing in the world and allows our adversaries to fill the void".

Human Rights Watch criticised the move, warning that Washington's absence at the top United Nations body would put the onus on other governments to address the world's most serious rights problems.

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The officials said the administration had concluded that its efforts to promote reform on the council had failed and that withdrawal was the only step it could take to demonstrate its seriousness. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein on Monday called on Washington to halt its "unconscionable" policy.

Vice President Mike Pence tweeted a statement: "Today the USA took a stand against some of the world's worst human rights violators by withdrawing from the United Nations Human Rights Council".

When the Human Rights Council was created in 2006, U.S. President George W. Bush's administration shunned the body. Under President Barack Obama's administration, the US officially joined the UNHRC in 2009.

The U.S. pullout was bound to have ripple effects for at least two countries at the council: China and Israel.

Israel's Ambassador Aviva Raz Shechter gestures during a special session of the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council to discuss "the deteriorating human rights situation" in the Palestinian Territories, on May 18, 2018 in Geneva, after Israeli forces killed 60 Palestinians.

Opposition to the decision from human rights advocates was swift.

The Trump administration tried hard to address the conditions for membership on the council.

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"The U.N. Human Rights Council has played an important role in such countries as North Korea, Syria, Myanmar and South Sudan, but all Trump seems to care about is defending Israel", said Human Rights Watch executive director Ken Roth.

In remarks to the Graduate Institute of Geneva, given the same day as her council speech, Haley made the matter plain. "The UN Human Rights Council is undermined by politicisation and the singling out of Israel in its standing agenda and the United Kingdom has shown the way to giving this potentially crucial body much greater weight and standing".

The council reserves one permanent agenda item, governing every one of its regular sessions, only for condemning Israel.

Haley is decrying the membership of countries like China, Cuba and Venezuela that are themselves accused of rights violations.

Salil Shetty, Amnesty International's secretary-general, said: "Once again President Trump is showing his complete disregard for the fundamental rights and freedoms the USA claims to uphold".

"We gave them opportunity after opportunity, and many months of consultations, and yet they would not take a stand unless it was behind closed doors", she said. "In some cases, states that seek to subvert this institution's noble aims have hijacked the very systems that are supposed to advance them".

Some analysts praised the decision, including Brett Schaefer of the Heritage Foundation, who credited the USA with taking a "measured approach".

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